NASHVILLE, TN – Armed with eight picks in the 26-pick 2017 NPF Senior Draft Presented by 2XU, the Akron Racers came away from Monday night with a treasure trove of talent, starting with the winners of Big Ten Pitcher of the Year the past three seasons. The Racers jump started their night by selecting Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen.
In Groenewegen, Akron will have a pitcher with plenty of experience as the native of Surrey, British Columbia has been a Canadian National Team member since 2013. Highlighting her international competition, Groenewegen went 2-1 with 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched at the WBSC Women’s World Softball Championship in 2014. The next year Groenewegen led Canada to a gold medal in the Pan American Games against the United States in Toronto.
With the Golden Gophers, Groenewegen is a two-time NFCA All-American and a three-time All-Big Ten selection and the 2014 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. For her career, Groenewegen has 1,110 strikeouts, a 1.64 ERA and 98 victories, to go along with 36 home runs and 149 RBI at the plate. This season the right-hander has the third best ERA in the country at 0.52, 203 strikeouts and a 22-2 record.
The Racers added another pitcher to their staff in the second round, selecting Michigan ace Megan Betsa with the seventh overall selection. Betsa is the reigning back-to-back Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, and a strikeout maching for Michigan. This season the right-handed pitcher leads the nation with 334 strikeouts to go along with 19 wins, 23 complete games and 183 innings pitched. Betsa has led the Wolverines in strikeouts in all four seasons in Ann Arbor, including three straight years of at least 300 strikeouts.
Akron came back to the pitching circle with its final pick, the 24th overall selection, in the fifth round, taking Mississippi State left-hander Alexis Silkwood. Coming into her senior season Silkwood was already climbing towards the top of the Mississippi State record book, ranking third with 39 complete games and 447 strikeouts. She was also fourth in innings pitched (506.1), shutouts (12) and wins (44). Silkwood is now the school record holder with 50 complete games, 542 strikeouts, 642.2 innings pitched and 58 wins.
With two picks to bookend the third round, the Racers selected Wisconsin catcher Chloe Miller and Tennessee outfielder Megan Geer with the 11th and 15th overall selections, respectively. Miller is enjoying her finest season to date in 2017, racking up career bests with a .440 batting average, 41 runs, 55 hits, .800 slugging percentage and a .542 on-base percentage. For her career, Miller has accumulated 203 hits, including 52 doubles, 175 RBI and 133 runs scored, to go with a .357 career average.
Geer, who was a Pre-season USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 “Watch List” member, is top 10 all-time in the Volunteer record book with 36 home runs and 58 stolen bases, showcasing her abilities as a well-rounded player. Geer has successfully stolen 58 bases on just 61 attempts and is a career .323 hitter, she has scored 207 runs and driven in 169 RBI.
Following Geer, Akron immediately snagged another SEC outfielder in Georgia’s Sydni Emanuel to start the fourth round. Emanuel, a two-time All-SEC selection, ranks third in the country with 74 hits and currently has her highest batting average at .454.
To begin the fifth round, the Racers selected Arkansas outfielder Nicole Schroeder with the 21st overall draft choice. Schroeder currently leads the Razorbacks with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 42 RBI and a .773 slugging percentage. Two picks later, Akron chose infielder Maddy Grimm from nearby Kent State with the 23rd selection, right in front of Silkwood. Grimm is batting .343 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI as a senior. Grimm leads the Golden Flashes record book with 65 home runs and 183 RBI.
For full draft results go to http://profastpitch.com/NPF_Draft/2017_draft/
Akron begins the 2017 season on the road, June 1 in Chicago against the defending champion Bandits. The Racers will kick off the home schedule June 23 against the USSSA Pride at Firestone Stadium. For tickets to any of the 2017 season games, contact the Racers ticket office at 330-376-8188 or visit online at www.akronracers.org.